CARE Director Thrives on Helping Others Survive Disaster
She’s seen plenty of transitions in the last two decades — travel between wealthy and poverty-stricken cultures in the U.S. and Haiti, from childlessness to parenthood, from health to fighting cancer and back to health again.
Currently a country director for the humanitarian organization CARE, working out of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Abby Kaufman Maxman ’88 will soon move to Ethiopia with her husband, Charlie Danzoll ’88, and their son. In Haiti, she managed a $25 million yearly budget and coordinated a staff of 600. She’ll be doing much the same job in Ethiopia — combating poverty and social injustice.
In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne dumped floodwaters into the streets of Gonaives, Haiti, killing thousands. Maxman coordinated the response effort, providing shelter and relief supplies. At one CARE food distribution center, she watched a pregnant woman drop to her knees in desperation.
“For the first time in my career, I dropped down beside her and we wept together. Despite her situation, she told me she was determined to keep what was left of her family together. I took a deep breath as I watched her walk away through the knee-deep water carrying a few staples,” Maxman wrote in a Pink magazine article.
Maxman met Charlie, her husband and CARE co-worker, while attending Colorado College, where her humanitarian career also began. She volunteered for the Peace Corps immediately after graduation; she was stationed in Lesotho, Africa, in the heyday of apartheid. She loved the work, despite its challenges, and continues to find it inspiring to help others. “I’ve met all these incredible people who are models of strength in the face of really impossible situations,” she said.